The Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (IATA: SJU, ICAO: TJSJ, FAALID: SJU) (Spanish: Aeropuerto Internacional Luis Muñoz Marín, unofficially known as Isla Verde International Airport/Aeropuerto Internacional Isla Verde) is a joint civil-military international airport named for Puerto Rico's first democratically elected governor and located in Carolina, Puerto Rico, three miles (five km) southeast of San Juan. It is the busiest airport in the Caribbean region by passenger traffic. Over 4 million passengers board a plane at the airport per year according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Until 1955, Fernando Luis Ribas Dominicci Airport (Isla Grande Airport) was Puerto Rico's main international airport. This began to change at the start of the jet age, when many of the airlines that served Puerto Rico were changing from propelled to jet aircraft. Isla Grande's 5,000-foot (1,500 m) runway was not long enough for jets, so in 1951 Governor Luis Muñoz Marin authorized construction of a new airport. The airport would be a major meeting point[clarification needed] for tourists and air cargo, and the home of the Puerto Rico Air National Guard.
The airport opened on May 22, 1955 in the area known as Isla Verde in Carolina, Puerto Rico. It opened with one runway (Runway 8/26), the old tower, which today is on the top of the Airport Hotel, three terminals, and parking for 200 cars. In the late 1960s construction of Runway 10/28 began; it was finished by 1972. In 1985 Governor Rafael Hernández Colón named the airport after Luis Muñoz Marín, Puerto Rico's first democratically elected governor. The airport served as a Caribbean hub for Pan Am, Trans Caribbean Airways, Eastern Air Lines, and as a short lived focus city for TWA. It was also the hub of Puerto Rico's international airline, Prinair, from 1966 until 1984, when Prinair went bankrupt. In 1986 American Airlines and American Eagle established a hub to compete with Eastern Air Lines. American later ended hub operations due to flight capacity cuts and continued to operate a focus city until April 4, 2011. American Eagle service, operated by San Juan-based Executive Airlines with ATR-72s, was shut down on April 1, 2013. In the past, the airport has been served by now-defunct airlines like Caribair (based in San Juan), ATA Airlines, and Northwest Airlines.
In 2008 the airport has been receiving major upgrades, including a new terminal (Terminal A), pavement and expansions, new light systems, press conference rooms, and new fast food restaurants along its corridors. New airlines have begun operating from San Juan to other international routes and destinations.
Over $400 million was used to expand the airport facilities through 2011. Terminal A opened on June 6, 2012 and is used by JetBlue Airways.
In 2013, Agustín Arellano, CEO of Aerostar Airport Holdings, LLC, announced major upgrades to the airport. JetBlue's new Terminal A will also receive improvements.
Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport is Puerto Rico's main international gateway and its main connection to the United States. Domestic flights fly between Carolina and other local destinations, including Culebra, Mayagüez and Vieques. The airport is accessed from the San Juan district of Hato Rey, the island's financial district, via the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge. Old San Juan is accessed via the Baldorioty de Castro Expressway (PR-26).
Teodoro Moscoso Bridge connecting the city of San Juan to the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in Carolina
Luis Muñoz Marín Airport has one main terminal building with four concourses and a separate terminal with one concourse. Terminal B reopened after a $130 million renovation in December 2014, with Delta, United, Southwest, and Spirit as its tenants (with all operations moved in by February 2015). After renovation of Terminal B is complete, Terminal C is expected to close, and is planned to reopen in December 2015; no tenants have been announced so far. Both terminals will feature high-end retail stores and new restaurants, as well as automated baggage scanners currently used only by six other airports in the mainland U.S.
On December 31, 1972, baseball star Roberto Clemente and his companions died when their DC-7 crashed soon after takeoff from Isla Verde during a relief flight bound for Nicaragua. Neither the bodies of the victims nor the plane's wreckage were ever found.
On June 27, 1985, an American AirlinesDC-10-10registered N129AA operating Flight 633 to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport with 257 passengers on board aborted take-off from runway 8 after a loud rumbling sound was heard by the crew as the airplane approached V1. Unable to stop the aircraft on the runway, the aircraft ended up nose-first in the lagoon at the end of the runway. A nose gear tire blowout was suspected. There were no fatalities, and aircraft returned to service six months later.
On July 29, 1986, a Borinquen AirDouglas C-53D registered N27PR crashed into a lagoon on approach. The aircraft was on a cargo flight to Golden Rock Airport, Saint Kitts and Nevis, when the starboard engine failed shortly after take-off and the crew decided to return to Carolina. One of the two crew members was killed, the other was seriously injured.
On March 1, 1989, a Borinquen Air Douglas C-49J registered N28PR ditched on approach following a failure of the port engine. Although the landing gear was retracted, the crew did not feather the propellor. This resulted in increased drag which made flight impossible. The aircraft was on an international cargo flight from Golden Rock Airport, Saint Kitts and Nevis.
On July 9, 1998, an American Airlines Airbus A300B4-605R registered N80057 operating flight 574 had a fire in the No. 1 engine shortly after takeoff from Luis Munoz Marin International Airport. The airplane sustained minor damage. The captain, first officer, 7 flight attendants, and 215 passengers were not injured. Twenty-eight passengers reported minor injuries during the post-landing emergency evacuation.
On September 24, 1998, a Trans-Florida AirlinesConvair 240-13 registered N91237 had an engine problem on take-off. It attempted to return to the airport, but lost altitude and was forced to land in a salt water lagoon some 2 miles (3.2 km) short of the runway. Though the aircraft was written off, the two crew and one passenger were uninjured.
On April 4, 2001, a Roblex AviationDouglas DC-3A registered N19BA ditched in the ocean after suffering a double engine failure while on a local training flight. Both crew members escaped. The aircraft sustained minor damage.
On May 9, 2004, an American EagleATR-72 operating flight 5401 crashed in San Juan, Puerto Rico after the captain lost control of the aircraft while landing. Seventeen people were injured, but there were no fatalities.
On August 9, 2014, a JetBlueAirbus A321 operating flight 704 to JFK International Airport, New York had to abort takeoff after one of the engines caught fire. All 186 passengers were evacuated from the aircraft. Two women were slightly hurt during evacuation.
Music group Menudo recorded a music video for their song "Claridad", in 1981 at the nearby Isla Verde Beach in Piñones. A Lockheed L-1011 aircraft is seen landing at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in the video.
The airport is seen in several scenes of action film Illegal Tender, where a Puerto Rican youngster flies to the Island from the United States several times.